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Monday, September 6, 2010

About Farming and Survival



Here’s a short article that puts into words what I think much better than I can.


1930s Farm Life



The Great Depression changed the lives of people who lived and farmed on the Great Plains and in turn, changed America. The government programs that helped them to live through the 1930s changed the future of agriculture forever. Weather touched every part of life in the "Dirty 30s": dust, insects, summer heat and winter cold. York County farm families didn't have heat, light or indoor bathrooms like people who lived in town. Many farm families raised most of their own food – eggs and chickens, milk and beef from their own cows, and vegetables from their gardens. People who grew up during the Depression said, "No one had any money. We were all in the same boat." Neighbors helped each other through hard times, sickness, and accidents. Farm families got together with neighbors at school programs, church dinners, or dances. Children and adults found ways to have fun for free – playing board games, listening to the radio, or going to outdoor movies in town.
When the dryness, heat, and grasshoppers destroyed the crops, farmers were left with no money to buy groceries or make farm payments. Some people lost hope and moved away. Many young men took government jobs building roads and bridges. By 1940, normal rainfall returned, and federal programs helped to boost farm prices and improve the soil. About the same time, a new government program started to hook up farmhouses to electricity, making farm life easier and safer. (read the rest)
http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe30s/life_01.html


Notice that it mentions federal programs. Tax payers money had to be used to save the farmers. That gives you an idea of how profitable and safe the activity is during hard times.

The lesson I learned from my hard working grandparents is that you don’t want to depend exclusively on farming for putting food on the table, paying the bills, paying for your health insurance, heat, etc.
When my grandparents lived in Spain, my grandma’s family farmed for a living. Buying a few liters of oil, flour, the things they didn’t produce meant they had to sell a lot of what they produced to afford them. It was extremely hard work for little profit in terms of both food and purchasing power. My grandma became a teacher and soon started with classes, traveling through the small towns nearby, teaching in the houses where a few neighbors would gather. She got paid with food and some money. In those days it was a bit of an honor to host the teacher, she generally went to the wealthiest, biggest home in town where more neighboring children would fit for the class. My grandfather made a better living because instead of farmer he was a good carpenter, made good roofs which were much appreciated and sought after, and he got paid well for his work. That provided him with a better income and a better quality of life in general as well. When he came to Argentina they didn’t buy land to farm. My grandma opened a small bakery that soon became pretty successful and my grandfather opened a carpentry shop that went well too, soon had a workshop that occupied half a block. They had a house with an orchard and chickens but my grandmother said she’d never go back to farming. 

Unless you have several hundreds or thousands of acres and make an important amount of profit, farming really isn’t that safe an occupation. Like the article above explains, many farmers lost their land during the great depression because of this, were forced to take other jobs and so on. Basically its the same old story in USA, Spain during the civil war and my country too.

Meanwhile there’s resourceful people that find ways of making lots of money during hard times like these, while at the same time creating job opportunities for others in need as well. I think that’s just as honorable a profession as working the land. You get to make money and give jobs to other families as well.
The way I see it, producing food in most cases should be combined with a more profitable, safer occupations if possible. That’s why I’d rather have a small orchard, some fruit trees and small animals, but no more than that and certainly not make it a full time job.

Another thing that I think is important to mention regarding farming and survival is that such an activity basically pins you to your location. Emigrating like some Jews did when they saw what was coming, how my grandparents did during the Spanish civil war or how my own parents, brothers (and I’ll do as well) after the 2001 crisis would be much harder if not downright impossible if you depend entirely on your land for your survival. You need enough money to start over and you’ll have to get some other kind of job. Most immigrants worked in factories and today its not that different. People emigrating abroad usually end up with a 9 to 5 job and you’re much better off if you have a profession that allows you to do that more easily. In my grandfather’s time it was carpentry, for my old man, my brothers and myself it’s a degree (architecture, accountant) and above all, fluidly knowing a second language. A degree and being fluent in English and Spanish means that pretty much you can find a job in half the countries round the globe. That’s what I think is the smartest thing to do, and the more adaptable survival strategy. 
I certainly have nothing against farming. I just see to many weak spots from a strategic survival point of view. I thinks it’s a honorable way of life, my grandparents on both sides of the family farmed and even today we have relatives that keep living and farming in the same town they did 200 years ago. I’ve visited them. I would not want to switch places with them and I know perfectly well that their situation is much more vulnerable from a survival point of view because of what I mentioned above: a) little income therefore little flexibility and less money to acquire resources b) they are pinned to their location and leaving would be much harder. Natural or man made disasters that affect their location will have a direct impact on their lives, losing their source of sustainability.
YMMV of course, just my opinion on the subject and all that.

FerFAL

25 comments:

Cycling in Hollywood said...

ferFAL I have great respect for you and I've learned a lot from your writing -- but excuse me for saying, sometimes your focus on your own personal experience causes you to miss the bigger picture. In particular, you have lived through a crisis in one country -- when the crises are global, the effects may be somewhat different in important ways.

Yes farming was tough in the Great Plains in the 1930s -- besides a deflationary depression, farmers faced ecological catastrophe as well -- a drought that led to the Dust Bowl. It was this combination of factors that made things so hard.

Now we face a somewhat different type of crisis. The problems are global this time, and there are many converging issues facing us -- energy depletion, climate change, financial collapse, etc.

If you take a closer look at these problems, you'll find that many of them are likely to lead to decreased global agricultural production in the future. Further, we don't have much slack in the global system with 6 billion people needing to be fed.

In these circumstances, I think farmers are looking at a future where healthy food will be in short supply. Particularly those who can farm organically in a well-watered area, as this greatly reduces the fossil fuel inputs necessary to produce a crop.

I don't see the conditions of the Depression repeating themselves for farmers, looks like farmers and their produce will be in greater and greater demand in future. (Been reading the headlines about the Russian wheat crop this year?)

The downside I see is that with climate becoming more variable, farming in any one location will become more risky. However there are techniques for dealing with variable conditions, and farmers will change and adapt as they can so they can still bring in at least a partial harvest even in difficult conditions. Learning how to farm in ever-changing weather conditions will be very important.

(FYI my family are successful farmers from Nebraska and I grew up near York, the area mentioned in your article.)

FerFAL said...

Hi Cycling, the American Farmers during the great depression isnt me focusing on my personal experience...
FerFAL

Anonymous said...

"I don't see the conditions of the Depression repeating themselves for farmers"

The land booms of the Great Plains in the 1800's were caused the same way as those today, maybe so in the future too?

I think farming is great, on a large scale it might work, but it is hard and full of risks, especially unknown risks from paper pushers & bureaucrats & the masses who don't want land prices to fall.

What does it matter, the demand of wheat, if the tax upon it is so great few can afford it? Or some other man-made barrier?

Found this over at HBB, it might apply here?:

The Financial Times
Why we must halt the land cycle
By Martin Wolf
Published: July 8 2010 22:28

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. This applies not least to the immense financial and economic crisis into which the world has fallen. So what lay behind it? The answer is the credit-fuelled property cycle. The people of the US, UK, Spain and Ireland became feverish speculators in land. Today, the toxic waste poisons the entire world economy.

In 1984, I bought my London house. I estimate that the land on which it sits was worth £100,000 in today’s prices. Today, the value is perhaps ten times as great. All of that vast increment is the fruit of no effort of mine. It is the reward of owning a location that the efforts of others made valuable, reinforced by a restrictive planning regime and generous tax treatment – property taxes are low and gains tax-free.

So I am a land speculator – a mini-aristocrat in a land where private appropriation of the fruits of others’ efforts has long been a prime route to wealth. This appropriation of the rise in the value of land is not just unfair: what have I done to deserve this increase in my wealth? It has obviously dire consequences.

First, it makes it necessary for the state to fund itself by taxing effort, ingenuity and foresight. Taxation of labour and capital must lower their supply. Taxation of resources will not have the same result, because supply is given. Such taxes reduce the unearned rewards to owners.

Second, this system creates calamitous political incentives. In a world in which people have borrowed heavily to own a location, they are desperate to enjoy land price rises and, still more, to prevent price falls. Thus we see a bizarre spectacle: newspapers hail upward moves in the price of a place to live – the most basic of all amenities. The beneficiaries are more than land speculators. They are also enthusiastic supporters of efforts to rig the market. Particularly in the UK, they welcome the creation of artificial scarcity of land, via a ludicrously restrictive regime of planning controls. This is the most important way in which wealth is transferred from the unpropertied young to the propertied old. In his new book, David Willetts, the universities minister, emphasises the unfairness of the distribution of wealth across generations.* The rigged land market is the biggest single cause of this calamity.

Third and most important, the opportunity for speculation in land both fuels – and is fuelled by – the credit cycle, which has, yet again destabilised the economy. In a superb new jeremiad, the journalist Fred Harrison argues that this cycle – with a duration of 18 years – was predictable and, by him at least, predicted.** In essence, he notes, buyers rent property from bankers, in return for a gamble on the upside. A host of agents gains fees from arranging, packaging and distributing the fruits of such highly speculative transactions. In the long upswing (the most recent one lasted 11 years in the UK), they all become rich together, as credit and debt explode upwards. Then, when the collapse comes, recent borrowers, the financial institutions and taxpayers suffer huge losses. This is no more than a giant pyramid selling scheme and one whose dire consequences we have seen again and again. It is ultimately, as Mr Harrison argues, a ruinous way of running our affairs.

Anonymous said...

I posted a comment too large for here.

I found an article which suggests "I don't see the conditions of the Depression repeating themselves for farmers" as being unlikely.

Never mind high taxes & regulations on farm products stealing the profit.

The Financial Times
Why we must halt the land cycle
By Martin Wolf
Published: July 8 2010 22:28

Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. This applies not least to the immense financial and economic crisis into which the world has fallen. So what lay behind it? The answer is the credit-fuelled property cycle...

FerFAL said...

The Irish Potato famine genocide is another good example of farmers suffering conditions that are out of their control. The boldest ones emigrated to America and survived, but millions stared to death too.
Mobility guys, our species trait of survival is the ability to move around and adapt as needed.

FerFAL

Anonymous said...

I was raised by Depression survivors in Michigan's central lower peninsula during the 60's and 70's. In some ways we lived much like what is described in the article, made much of our own food, etc. I learned many lessons from my late father, one of the main lessons learned is to be self-reliant and frugal, and have side-line jobs, and pay attention to which way the political "wind" is blowing. In my father's case he worked at Buick in Flint as an electrician, a great job to have back in the day, but he also farmed, did cement work, wired houses, all on the side. We did all our own mechanical work and home improvements, of course. Plus we hunted, fished and gardened, too, and had an orchard, heated with wood, etc. A lot of work but great fun as a kid! Later on I realized my parents were very concerned about the the economy and decline of society during the turbulent 60's and uncertainty of the 70's. During the so-called "energy crisis" of the late 70's my dad bought a diesel-powered car because he reasoned that if there was a shortage, the Government would make certain that the farmers would get fuel even if no one else did, to ensure the next crop got planted. It never came to that, of course. I like reading your blog and some of the others, most of this comes to me and my siblings as second nature.
BTW, my dad's uncle got rich during the 30's through the 50's, buying and selling stuff, like buying perch in Saginaw, down to Detroit, sell the fish AND then the ice, then back-haul something or other back up. After that he started successful manufacturing companies in the 50's and 60's.
Eric in MI

Nolan said...

It is important to note that often the cost of entry into any type of profitable farming is remarkably high. Not only do you need to buy land and seed and form irrigation and control pests and hope for good weather, but you have to buy incredibly expensive machinery and build storage facilities.

I agree that the most likely aspect of farming from the survivalist point of view is on a small plot (5 acres?) that isn't too far removed from neighbors. Use the food to supplement what you buy and can/sell the excess.

If you haven't done it before, it is difficult to understand the amount of work that goes into having a good crop (and how much success/failure depends on things over which you have little/no control).

Anonymous said...

No one knows how the coming "financial ice age" is going to unfold, so it makes sense to keep your options open.

Perhaps "bugging in" is the answer. Part of your survival strategy might be to grow some or all of your food. If you happen to be able to grow more food than your household needs, you have a valuable asset that can be exchanged for something you need (e.g., one of your teeth needs a filling and your dentist needs some food -- reach a deal both of you are happy with).

Perhaps "bugging out" is the answer. Maybe you live near a natural disaster waiting to happen (an earthquake fault line or a dormant volcano) or a terrorist sets off a dirty bomb that leaves your area uninhabitable for the next several decades. Perhaps the majority of other residents in your area believe you are too wealthy or too good looking or are of the "wrong" religion or ethnicity.

It makes sense to have a Plan A and Plan B based on "bugging in" because that is where you are now and what you are likely to know best. A Plan C and Plan D could be based on "bugging out" because your Plan A and Plan B options are no longer options for you.

Either way, however, it makes sense to have more than one way to earn a living. 3 is 2, 2 is 1, 1 is 0.

Patrick said...

Read Salatin's books before dismissing farming as unprofitable. Note that tax dollars were involved in helping replenish the soil, this was needed in part because of drought (there are techniques to preserve rainwater in the local water table) and there are methods of farming that aren't scale-dependent or soil destructive like conventional, industrial farming. Not that I have much personal experience with this, but it's important to do research with an open mind before drawing broad conclusions.

That said, I think part-time food production is going to be more feasible for more people going forward.

Don Williams said...

1) I think it depends upon the type of disaster one is talking about. In both the Great Depression and Argentina's 2001 crisis, the economy and government remained in existence. Trade continued.

2) But there are worst disasters -- a major nuclear war or flu pandemic -- where the economy could decline so far that basic survival gardening would have to be done by many people.

If the banks are closed, there's no money to buy food, no markets to encourage its distribution and no transportation network to deliver it from afar.

3) Ferfal's account of the Dust Bowl in the Great Depression is accurate for parts of the Midwest. But much of the US population in most other areas of the USA still lived on farms or close to farming communities during that time. The US population was still largely rural in the 1930s.

The case is quite different today -- although the suburbs of cities could perhaps supplement commercial food supplies with private gardens as was done during World War II --and as is done in Cuba today.

4) Anyone who has ever tried to actually grow food in a realistic manner -- i.e., try to grow grains and legumes that will provide adequate amounts of fats, proteins and carbohydrates while only having limited amounts of low-yield organic fertilizers -- knows that the job is highly skilled and highly risky. Disease , insects and wild animals can ruin your crop in a heartbeat -- and it is hard to get back from a harvest the huge amounts of calories you have to expend to work the land. And any crop worth growing greatly depletes the soil -- which is why the American Indians had to constantly move on to new locations and why their population remained so low.

Note also that it is extremely hard for farmers to DEFEND their harvests from raiders in the type of situations where farming pays off.

5) Our nations are greatly overpopulated -- and would be extremely vulnerable to famine if our modern economy collapsed.

Such famines used to be commonplace among populations with densities far less than what we have today.

Don Williams said...

Instead of farming, people might plan to move to farming communities if conditions required it. And by "communities" I mean small towns or villages that could be fortified and which are large enough to be able to fight off most bandit gangs.

In such a case, it would be good to have skills or goods that one could sell to farmers. Doctors and dentists obviously would be welcomed. Welders or tractor mechanics also.

The USA's State of Virginia has a State Theater known as the Barter Theater. The Barter is located in a small town called Abington within a large rural farming area in the southwestern end of Virginia, about 300 miles west from the cities on Virginia's eastern coast.

This seems like a strange location -- but the Barter Theater was formed during the Great Depression when a troup of starving actors moved from impoverished Broadway in New York City to rural Virginia. There they performed plays in exchange for food -- milk, eggs, chickens were collected at the ticket office.

Many US colleges also are located in rural areas -- or what were once rural areas -- because of the much lower cost of living.

Anonymous said...

The tragic story of Carolina Piparo, a pregnant Argentine woman who was killed after getting money at the bank.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/lt_argentina_banking_attacks

Anonymous said...

Hey Ferfal,
I got and read your book, loved it. I think there are some invaluable insights for "urban survivalists". I have to say you may be a bit off, but not completely on your criticism of for lack of a better term "farm survivalists". I was just driving through Pennsylvania today and I have to say, the Amish seem to be doing just great, better than the surrounding towns, in spite of the depressed economy! But, these people grew up on farms and have the skills and a complete network of similar folks. Anyway, that's my observation. Keep up the good work!
Tim in D.C.

Anonymous said...

Nolan mentioned that it is expensive to get into crop farming.

I think there might be ways around this. I'm not certain about all crop production and how widely this is practiced, lots of people rent land and cultivate hay, often with relatively inexpensive used equipment found at auctions or borrowed.
Livestock producers often get their start in farming in the same way, by renting the property and selling a "share" of the livestock to others while they raise the animals alongside some of their own, and or alongside the landowners livestock.

Not owning the land provides a way to be mobile while allowing one to farm and at the same time there is a buffer against rising taxes or falling land prices.

There are a number of farmers online who go into detail of how this is done.

Some people build small barns and the like with bunk beds and primitive living conditions meant to be temporary and to house workers.

Building on rented or leased property is a bit risky, but many do so. While not quite the same setup, an old man I knew told me how he lived through the Great Depression in the U.S. by renting land alongside a river where he built a small cabin. Fishing supplemented his diet while he worked many different jobs similar to what the others described above. It seemed like his worst problem (other than getting an income) was his wife's lead foot and the resulting inefficient use of fuel and a number of car wrecks. He said, "her lead foot" with a smile though, so I don't think it was a terrible thing.

Also, when you say,
Notice that it mentions federal programs.

That works another way too, federal programs suppress prices.
That's why there are pictures in history books showing farmers pouring their milk onto the ground in protest, the federal programs stole the farmer's profit. That could happen again too.

Once the price fixing was removed (or partially removed?) the prices went back up and found a market value.

Some people say the price fixing of land today needs to be removed too, only once the price fixing is removed the land prices will go down to the point working people can afford it based on their income and not by using credit.

I have a hard time imagining the federal price fixing of land being removed. One can dream though.

gaga said...

I bought a 7acre farm in Poland as a weekend/retirement/backup home.

Poland is perfect for small farmers, for an annual tax payment of $300 you get complete social protection - medical, unemployment and pension.
Thats the extent of taxation for farmers.

Buying a Farm in Poland if you are not Polish is made very difficult, you need a special license if you are a EU citizen, or citizenship (automatic and irrevocable if you have Polish ancestors) .

There are over a million small farms in Poland and they have their own political party which is in coalition with the government so their preferential treatment is protected. Farms are also arranged into villages in strips along roads. So a typical farm will have a plot of 40m by 500m (120ft x 500ft) so you have a very large strip of land yet are very close to your neighbour and still within a village. Sharing equipment and food is more possible. This layout is common across eastern Europe (look at google satellite view).

Another thing that is striking about Poland is that it is a homogeneous, white catholic society. Stalin's 'gift' to Poland was to physically move all the Poles into a smaller place and end centuries of multiracial strife. This may appeal to you..

Several reasons make it good this farm for me.

First its near (35minutes) the major city I work and my wife owns an apartment (which my wife owns due to the generously of communism). So I can work on my daytime job, and have our rental income to fall back on - Krakow is a student town and apartments/rooms are always in demand.
Second, its walking distance to the nearest village and also to the major town.

Third, this talk about growing your own food is a bit silly. Mess about with it for a hobby, sure, but remember weeds and bugs will swamp you unless you do it seriously. Far better to stick to a cash crop such as wheat for the majority of your land. As Ferfal says *Money is what you need above all else*. Crops like wheat are easy to produce and sell and you can, to a very large extent, live off the produce and barter and sell the rest *easily*.

Bones said...

Scary stuff about a potential food crisis looming from a credible source:

http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Analysis/2010/09/07/Walkers-World-The-food-crisis/UPI-42561283854380/

Nolan said...

There are ways around parts of the cost to break into farming. But most of them dramatically reduce your standard of living, decrease your income/liquidity for a minimum of several years, and make you a renter rather than an owner. At least for a while and for a very questionable benefit.

Having participated in the plowing/sowing/harvest of a number of different plants, I can promise you it isn't the type of thing you want to do. It is VERY difficult, unless you already make crazy money (farming is HEAVILY subsidized to this day) and have an immense amount of land, to break even on your investment and feed your family.

Because the focus of this post seems to be farming for subsistence and profit I just wanted to throw in my two cents because as a kid I was employed by such people (often hire kids for cheap) and know how brutally difficult the work can be.

Anonymous said...

"this talk about growing your own food is a bit silly. Mess about with it for a hobby, sure, but remember weeds and bugs will swamp you unless you do it seriously."

You've got to be kidding, even in a small suburban garden it's quite easy to grow most of the food a family needs.

In the U.S. anyway, the benefits of owning are overrated, renting provides the same benefits.

Spend an hour or so at thehousingbubbleblog.com maybe you'll see?

Anonymous said...

Standard of living?

That depends on which level of the corporate ladder you're on to begin with, eh?

Maybe some here have cush office jobs and such, but for many who work low wage slave factory jobs, life on the farm might be an increase in living standards, not to mention a heck of an improvement in health.

I know when I switched from a seven day a week, 12-14hr factory job to working on a farm, the work seemed easier and the pay was better. Looking back, I wished i could have stayed on and not returned to the factory job.

gaga said...

"You've got to be kidding, even in a small suburban garden it's quite easy to grow most of the food a family needs. "

The evdence is; thats not true.

As I have discovered, growing food in a city is easier than a farm becuase the amount of bugs and weeds are at massive level around you on a farm. A city garden is an oasis in the desert in comparison. My farm garden is surrounded by Moles and weeds and every other sort of wildlife from deer to pheasants to hare. Try control them.
Plant something and you be amazed at the speed that other things grow in the soil, some crop seeds such as wheat, corn mustard etc, but very well adapted weeds that grow even faster and higher than commerical crops.

One further advantage of wheat for a cash crop - its basically impossible to steal before harvest How many thieves are going to get a combine harvester and use it?) and can be harvested and removed very quickly when you do harvest it.

Don Williams said...

1) Thanks very much for the info, Gaga.

2) I have long thought that relocating to a farming areas makes sense only if you can live in a village/town that could fortify itself and could muster enough men to protect itself from bandits or raiders.

But the problem with that is people having to walk to their farms to work during the day, if fuel was not available for autos.
Your strip farms provide a solution to that problem.

3) American farms today are not laid out to support security -- they are very large and spread out across the landscape because everyone uses automobiles today.

4) But it would be impossible to defend isolated farmhouses in a disaster. I grew up in the country and even today people in rural areas keep guns because the policemen can take 20 minutes or longer to arrive even with telephones and radios. The situation would be hopeless if police cars could not get fuel and if the telephone system did not operate.

5) My parents neighborhood suffered a rash of robberies 15 years ago when the local economy crashed and unemployment spiked. My father himself had to fire a gun in the air one night to scare off a thief -- people don't really understand the security problems of country living if they haven't lived there.

6) Because of its flat terrain and lack of geographical barriers, Poland has always suffered attacks from without and the ensuing turmoil. Looks like you guys have developed a smart defensive system in response. One from which the rest of us could learn much.

7) As someone who has tried to grow food in a city suburb, I can assure you that we have our share of insects and diseases.

Plus people do not understand how much nutrient (nitrogen, phosphorus, potash) that crops extract from the soil and how difficult farming would be if you couldn't drive to the farming supply store and load up bags of concentrated fertilizer and advanced pesticides. Soil depletion is a major problem if you do not have herds of farm animals to supply manure.

Anonymous said...

Couple of things been rattling around my mind after reading this:

"People emigrating abroad usually end up with a 9 to 5 job"

Those hours are often somewhat hard to get in the U.S., even if you have a profession that allows you to do that more easily. I've heard and read so many people over the decades point this out as well as experiencing it first hand.

For example, I think accountant types are well known for working something like September to May for 15 hours a day and the rest of the time is 6:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

When you wrote, "It was extremely hard work for little profit in terms of both food and purchasing power." at least it was on the up and up, being shortchanged was out in the open. But you're correct for the most part.

When I left farming for factory life I learned a hard lesson. The overtime was often mandatory and while the other guys who were paid more than I was welcomed the extra hours, after they calculated the figures on a calculator they looked at me and said I shouldn't work as hard or be so happy about it because after taxes I was earning less while working overtime than I was the first eight hours. After I did the calculations myself, I reckoned it was like being robbed.

The banksters and the bureaucrats have got a destructive hand in the pockets of everyone, coming and going, it seems.

Jada said...

I have many generations of farmers behind me. Despite the variations of their enterprises, they all share a common theme between them.

One person works in town, for a steady paycheck. That's because, while farmin keeps food on the table, it's not much for putting money in the bank.

My garden and orchard produce enough to keep my husband and I drowning in vegetables and fruit, and our 4 hens keep us covered up in eggs. We give a lot to friends, and we also make a nice chunk of change selling surplus heirloom onions, tomatoes, and peppers at the farmer's market in the nearby city.

HOWEVER, our income comes from having two full time jobs. If we had to survive on what we made "farming", we'd be evicted in no time. That held true back when I ran livestock on large acreage as well. People think they will farm and make a living selling their produce in a bad time. The competition is bad enough now, in good times! When there's 50 people at the market all selling tomatoes and onions, you're going home with most of what you brought, unless you sell it for pennies. Now imagine how many will be trying to sell produce when times are hard! Good luck surviving on that. And, sadly, the bank won't take eggs and squash for your house payment... and no matter how much everyone may wish for it, I doubt the banking industry will go under to the extent they stop demanding payment on home loans.

Grow enough for your own family, and maybe some extra to help your friends and neighbors, but don't expect to make a living on it.

Anonymous said...

One of the biggest problems in the U.S. is that only one in 200 people farm for a living. That's it. 1 in 200. Everyone else is NOT a farmer.

That's a big problem if food distribution networks go down. So, I'd suggest storing more food, and growing stuff for yourself.

Anonymous said...

I know of quite a few farmers who are well off financially from farming and that's All they do, no second job, wife stays home.

It's not easy though.
Some marketing strategies are better than others.

Some say, Sell produce to a city and the result is you will be poor. Sell produce to the world and the result is you will grow wealth.

One successful method is possessing a second reason for owning a farm, or shares of many farms similar to companies like McDonald's.

McDonald's started small and grew wealth.

The dominant company in any market Can Be Replaced by their competitors or future competitors.

Here's a big reason why farming profits might rise and why people might consider farming, or something connected to farming:

In November, Faber, known as Dr. Doom, had warned about future geopolitical tensions brought about by the economoc crisis and the high levels of debt. "At some stage, somewhere in future, we will have a war - that you have to be prepared for. And during war times, commodities go up strongly,” said Faber.

"If you want to hedge against war, you don't want to own derivatives in UBS and AIG, but you have to own them physically, like farmland and agricultural commodities. That is something to consider for you as a personal safety and hedge. You have to own some commodities," he said.

http://www.bi-me.com/main.php?id=48325&t=1&cg=4